From the ‘Strange Bedfellows’ files:
When you download Firefox today the default homepage and search provider is Google.
That ‘deal’ and the searches that millions of Firefox users do everyday is what provides the vast majority of Mozilla’s revenues. The only problem is that the Google deal is up for renewal soon (and I personally have not heard anything from Google or Mozilla about when/if the deal will be renewed).
So what is Mozilla doing?
Today they announced a Firefox with Bing version of Firefox. It’s a special version of Firefox with Bing as the homepage and default search provider. The implication is that there is some kind of revenue flowing to Mozilla from the Bing searches (if you work for Mozilla can you confirm/deny that?).
Firefox with Bing is not the default Firefox and it’s not a replacement for Google either. Heck, even if it was the default, it’s trivially easy to replace the homepage and the default search provider too (just ask Ubuntu). In January of 2010, Ubuntu tried to switch out Google for Yahoo as the default provider.
I suspect that the timing of this Firefox with Bing is somewhat related to the pending Google deal renewal (or not). It’s just too close time-wise for it not to be. There is also no way that Mozilla would make nearly as much money on a Microsoft Bing deal as they do with Google. But hey, if Google decides not to renew the deal, what choice does Mozilla have?
As Firefox users we all have a choice too. So regardless of whatever deal Mozilla makes (or doesn’t make), we can choose our own homepage and search provider.